The protagonist of my novel, Meg Riley, sustains the loss of her parents at a fairly young age. Fortunately for her she has two wonderful maternal grandparents who fill the void and guide her through her young adult life during the 1970s and 80s. Clare Meyer, her older friend at Quarry Lake, was in a similar situation as Meg during the 1950s. Clare is guided by her mentor Eleanor, Meg’s great aunt. They represent successive generations who influence one another in positive ways. This is not to say they always get along. In the novel, Eleanor is in her 90s, Clare in her 70s and Meg in her 50s. They learn from one another, comfort one another, support one another.
These relationships are no accident. My life has been filled with strong female role models, namely my mother and her mother. My grandmother had her two children very late in life and lost her husband to cancer when my mother was 11 and my uncle 12. In 1940, this was a bleak prospect at her age of 51. She managed though it was far from easy. We found ourselves in a difficult situation when I was roughly the same age. My mom worked so hard while also caring for my grandmother a few hours each day after her teaching job. Then she came home to my brother and me and continued her job as mother and mentor. She never complained and to this day I don’t know how she did it.
As I face the challenges of my own life, I often wonder how I get through what I encounter each day with two chronic illnesses. Yes, I know it’s preferable to the alternative (death) but at times it seems so overwhelming. Thankfully I have the same stubbornness that allowed my mother to survive. Living well is the best revenge, after all.
So is it an accident that strong female characters lie at the root of my mystery? Will they persevere as I have? Keep reading…